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ICC Note: The conflict in Syria continues on and another of Syria’s historic Christian towns is now under immediate threat. Mhardeh, a safe haven for as many as 23,000 Christians, is now surrounded by fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda. The bombing of the town has continued for more than a week, electricity has been cut for nearly two weeks.

09/06/2014 Syria (Telegraph) – Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria is attacking one of the country’s remaining Christian strongholds, as it presses its offensive against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Jabhat al-Nusra fighters, who have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, are encircling the historic Christian town of Mhardeh and bombarding it with artillery, residents have told The Telegraph.

“There is shelling night and day. We have no electricity. There is only one road out and it is dangerous to use it now,” said Josef, a civil engineer in Mhardeh, who spoke using a pseudonym for fear of reprisals if the jihadists enter the town.

For centuries Mhardeh was a safe haven for Syria’s Greek Orthodox Christians, recently housing a population of approximately 23,000.

The spires of five carefully maintained churches are dotted on the town’s horizon, and its population is proud of the city’s heritage as the birthplace of Ignatius IV Hazim, the late Patriarch of Antioch.

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